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Home > Foot Care > Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown Toe NailsIngrown Toe Nails

Ingrown toe nails are a common, painful condition that occurs when skin on one or both sides of a nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself grows into the skin. There are three stages of ingrown toenails. In the first stage the skin on either side of the nail is red and painful to the touch. This is due to inflammation or irritation only infection. In the second stage the skin is infected and may bulge over the side of the nail. The affected area may ooze clear fluid or pus. In the third stage the skin has been infected for a prolonged time and is trying to heal itself. The skin does this by forming granulation tissue. This is heaped up extra red tissue that bleeds easily and migrates over the nail edge.


There are several factors that can lead to an ingrown toenail.

  • The first is an abnormality of the soft tissue on the side of the nail.

  • The nail plate can be forced out of the nail groove by shoes that have a toe box that is too small for the forefoot, by trauma, or by cutting the nail back in a curvilinear fashion.

  • Cutting your toenails incorrectly can cause them to re-grow into the skin. This occurs because the ingrown nail is often in a warm, moist and bacteria-rich environment. When the nail penetrates the skin, it provides a convenient entry for germs that can cause infection.

  • Heredity - Inwardly curved nail with distortion of one or both nail margins.

  • Bone pathology

  • Obesity

  • Antiviral therapy for HIV

  • Untreated, the nail can go under the skin, causing a more severe infection. In either case, the infection needs to be cured with sterile instruments and antibiotics.

  • Symptoms

  • The sharp end of the nail will be pressing into the flesh on one or both sides of the nail bed.

  • Skin near the nail may feel tender and look red and swollen as the nail pushes on the skin. Once the nail pokes through the skin, the skin will look redder and more swollen. You may feel a sharp pain that is worse when walking. With time, the skin will grow over the nail. It may also cause yellow drainage come from the nail. This may mean you have an infection.

  • Treatments

  • Ingrown toenails need to be treated immediately.

  • In many cases, people with uninfected this can obtain relief with the following simple regimen:

  • Soak the feet in warm salt water. Dry them thoroughly with a clean towel. Apply a mild antiseptic solution to the area and bandage the toe. However, If you have diabetes, do not try to treat an ingrown nail by yourself. Always call your caregiver first. Do not treat an ingrown nail without a caregiver`s help if you have certain long-term health problems.

  • If your nail is infected or your ingrown nail keeps coming back, you may need surgery. Many types of surgeries can be done to treat an ingrown nail. Often, a podiatrist will cut and remove a small section from the side of your nail. The section of nail is cut from the side of the fingernail or toenail that is ingrown.

  • You may continue to have problems with a recurring (keeps coming back) ingrown nail or bad infection. If this happens, the surgeon may need to remove your entire nail to stop the ingrown nail problem.

  • Prevention

  • Cutting toe nails properly goes a long way toward the prevention of ingrown toenails. Using a safety nail clipper, cut the nails straight across, so that the nail corner is visible. If you cut the nail too short, you are inviting the nail corner to grow into the skin. It is the natural tendency, when the edge of the nail starts to grow in, to cut down at an angle at the nail edge, to relieve the pain. This does relieve the pain temporarily, but it also can start a downward spiral, training the nail to become more and more ingrown.
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